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By Ruzanna Khachatrian
The three political parties represented in Armenia’s government again failed to agree on key rules for future parliamentary elections during fresh talks mediated by President Robert Kocharian, their senior representatives told RFE/RL on Monday.

Leaders of the Republican Party (HHK), the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and the Orinats Yerkir Party held yet another meeting on Friday in a bid to resolve the dispute threatening to break up their coalition cabinet. They were joined by Kocharian later in the day. According to some participants, no mutually acceptable solutions were found as a result.

Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir demand a sweeping electoral reform that would increase the number of parliament seats contested under the system of proportional representation of political parties. The change would help them as well as Armenia’s leading opposition parties win more seats during the next parliamentary elections.

However, the Republicans, who have the largest faction in the present National Assembly, have a vested in maintaining the 56 of its 131 seats distributed in single-mandate constituencies under the so-called “majoritarian” system prevalent in the United States. They are strongly backed on the issue by the People’s Deputy group of about two dozen non-partisan deputies elected on an individual basis.

“A final decision regarding the majoritarian and proportional seats was not taken,” said Tigran Torosian, an HHK leader and the deputy parliament speaker. But he said the pro-Kocharian parties hope to hammer out a compromise deal before the end of this year.

“We have not yet found new solutions,” confirmed Spartak Seyranian, a senior Dashnaktsutyun member. “Discussions are continuing and things should clear up in the next few days.”

The “Haykakan Zhamanak” daily quoted an unidentified Dashnaktsutyun parliamentarian as repeating his party’s threats to drop out of the coalition unless the HHK meets its demands. “Let no force think that it can fool us,” the lawmaker said, warning the Republicans against dragging out the talks.

Dashnaktsutyun insists that the number of party-list seats be increased from 75 to at least 92. The Republicans have so far been willing to accept a much more modest increase.

Torosian would not say if they are ready for greater concessions. “I think it would be inappropriate to predetermine the outcome of the ongoing discussions,” he said.

Torosian also declined to clarify Kocharian’s personal position on the electoral reform. The Armenian president has not yet made it public.

(Photolur photo: Tigran Torosian)
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